A popular class of web apps.
One of the more popular offsite backup services is Mozy. I have two accounts, with each one supporting two computers. One on account I have two Windows 7 machines, and on the other, two Snow Leopard machines. This sort of application is becoming the method of choice for protecting files from loss.
But Mozy is an interesting example of technology that isn’t quite there yet.
A trait of new technology in general.
We do this a lot, excitedly jumping into emerging technology, embracing it, and putting up with its “tinker-with-me-nonstop” funkiness.
The Mozy backup service: the idea.
The idea behind Mozy is that you create backup sets and a schedule of when you want your offsite backup folders to be updated. You can, in principle, have your documents, mail, and other important files backed up late at night when your machine is idle.
The Mozy backup service: the reality.
But right now, I am on a Snow Leopard machine on which Mozy has been “Scanning for files” for many, many hours. It says that 0% percent have been prepared and 0% percent have been transferred. Reinstalling, including getting rid of all of Mozy’s support files and starting from scratch, does not fix the problem. Neither does rebooting or cursing.
Mozy likes to behave differently on my other Mac. It seems to scan okay, but then hangs up when it is time to start uploading. Right now, it’s been hung for several hours. In perhaps another several hours, it will stop and do one of two things: give me an error message that says that the connection with the Mozy server was cut, or tell me that my files have been backed up – which of course will not be true.
Yes, Mozy will actually tell me that the last backup failed, and at the same time tell me that all my files are backed up. When I go to the Mozy server to check things out, it turns out that my files have not been backed up for weeks.
On my two Windows machines, Mozy has yet another behavioral pattern. It actually works, as advertised. But this is only because I have spent many hours with it. And it is still not at a state where it can be left alone to do its thing, and I mess with it almost every day.
Welcome to the new Web.
The situation with Mozy and my machines is representative of how many new, Web 2.0 applications perform. To get things going and to keep them going, you have to either have an infinite amount of futzing time or you’d better be a programmer. Or both.
Mozy does indeed give specific error messages. They are numbered and if you look in their Help file, there are very understandable explanations of what the numbers mean. It’s just that the error messages returned don’t seem to have anything to do with what is happening.
There is a log file, too, with lots written in it. But the stuff in there seems to have nothing to do with what’s going wrong, either.
So that’s the lesson of the emerging Web 2.0 world. You are going to be more intimately involved with the web apps you use than you would imagine in advance, especially given the hype and promises made by vendors.